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Bryn Mawr’s Genius Mathematician

A nice article in the NY Times draws attention to Emmy Noether, the brilliant mathematician who spent a little more than a year at Bryn Mawr College: The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of.

Following the publication of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, Noether started working through some of the complexities of the theory. This work led to her eponymous theorem: Noether’s Theorem.

As a Jewish academic at the University of Göttingen, Noether was fired from her position and shortly afterwards fled Germany. Apparently with Einstein’s help, she was given a position at Bryn Mawr. Sadly, Noether’s life was cut short. Within two years of arriving in the U.S. she died after undergoing an operation to have a large cyst removed from her ovaries.

In his obituary for Noether, Einstein called her the “most competent living mathematician:”

In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began. In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, she discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians. Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. (Albert Einstein, New York Times, May 1, 1935)

Emmy Noether’s grave marker in The Cloisters at BMC.

Noether is buried in The Cloisters at Bryn Mawr College, where her grave is marked with just her initials and dates.

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